Sunday, January 24, 2016

Killing Jihadis is Fun and Easy!

As the Era of Hope and Change brings back the body count to measure our war effort, let's review, shall we?

The pace of air strikes in Iraq is up:

Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria have killed more than 6,400 Islamic State fighters in the past three months, and the militant group is showing the effect of the losses, according to coalition military statistics.

Casualty counts have not been a reliable measure of success against the Islamic State in the past because it replaced fallen fighters with new recruits. But as offensives by Iraqi troops reclaim territory from the radical group, the Islamic State is losing its ability to conscript fighters from areas it had controlled, which had been the major source of new troops.

U.S. commanders say the combination of airstrikes and Iraqi ground offensives has weakened the terror group in Iraq and Syria and hurt its morale.

Which as a reflection of wanting to seriously wage war is a good thing.

But killing jihadis--while a necessary component of defeating them--is not sufficient to win.

The article on the pace notes the declines in quality of ISIL troops and their morale. But do you know what you call an army with lower quality and morale because they are being hammered from the air?

You call them the army that holds the ground. By 1943, the Italian army was down in morale and quality after being defeated in North Africa and Sicily, but it still held Italy. They didn't truly collapse until the Allies invaded Italy.

For the lower troop quality and morale of ISIL to matter, you have to exploit those factors to defeat them on the ground and drive them from the land they hold.

And that is happening in Iraq, too, if slowly. Ramadi and other ground clawed from ISIL in Anbar (but not Fallujah which again gets to experience the joys of jihadi rule--as they did through half a year in 2004); Baiji and Tikrit and other territory on the road north to Mosul; and other territory that the Kurds have wrestled from ISIL north of Mosul in order to help cut off Mosul from ISIL's Syria branch.

I want a sense of urgency to defeat ISIL because if given time, morale will improve and poor quality troops will gain quality from training and experience.

And while the big push is organized, people continue to die and suffer under brutal ISIL rule, as they do in Fallujah, for example:

Two years after Fallujah became one of the first prizes claimed by ISIS, the Iraqi city is a ghost town where fearful residents turn on one another and resistance is met with unspeakable brutality, according to sources trapped inside the Pittsburgh-sized community just 40 miles west of Baghdad.

The sources, who spoke by phone with, painted a bleak picture of life under an increasingly brutal and desperate ISIS, as it prepares for an expected assault by Iraqi government forces.

Oh, and I want us to win on the ground before a body count mentality results in a counting process that assumes that any running Sunni Arab man is a member of ISIL--and any Sunni Arab standing still is a well-disciplined member of ISIL.

That would be the Russian rules of engagement, actually.